English Journal is NCTE's award-winning journal of ideas for English language arts teachers in junior and senior high schools and middle schools.
Call for Manuscripts
All manuscripts should be submitted via the Editorial Manager system.
General Interest Submissions
We publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, EJ readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply.
Submission Deadline: January 15, 2018
Publication Date: September 2018
“And it can be said that the monumental struggles being waged in our time . . . resemble, in awesome ways, the ancient struggle between those who insisted that the world was flat and those who apprehended that it was round.” —James Baldwin, “Here Be Dragons,” 1985
Uncertainties mark the cultural map of our contemporary world, interfering with our sense of security and, at times, rendering the landscape unfamiliar and tricky. Schools can reflect these uncertainties. Domestic sociopolitical upheaval, shifting demographics, global humanitarian catastrophes, and the media’s broadcast of unfiltered, and often uncritical, perspectives affect our students and our classrooms.
Medieval cartographers used the warning “Here be dragons” to designate the edges of the known world. The phrase, sometimes accompanied by dragon symbols, served as both a caution and an invitation. It beckoned the most courageous to trespass familiar boundaries, to venture into unmapped territory. The English classroom has always applauded the spirit of exploration, and English teachers are renowned for their bravery, openness, and willingness to learn and adapt.
The changes in our world demand a courageous pedagogical response, especially as we assist students to cultivate literacies that promote justice, global awareness, and introspection. These changes bid us to renew our commitment to an artful, evolving practice. For this issue of the journal, the editors invite stories of radical courage. In the face of the “monumental struggles being waged in our time,” as Baldwin puts it, how are English classrooms responding with lessons that explore new territory, teach social responsibility, and inspire hope? How are courageous instructional choices supporting families and communities? As a literacy teacher, when have you stepped into unmapped terrain and what happened? How are we, as a profession, highlighting the need for empathy and engaged listening? Why must we believe in radical courage as we learn about ourselves and our struggling world? What dragons have you encountered and how have you and your students summoned the courage to face them?
Submission Deadline: March 15, 2018
Publication Date: November 2018
“Artifacts, or objects, are present in everyone’s life. Memories of objects are powerful pulls on identity. Objects are handed down, over generations, some brought from foreign trips as mementos. These objects are special, and they tell stories. Artifacts bring in everyday life. They are material, and they represent culture.” —Kate Pahl and Jennifer Rowsell, Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story (2010)
The artifacts of our lives are evocative. They invite us to reminisce and share stories, and they remind us of who we are and who we have been. Sometimes an artifact—a photograph, a book, a playlist, a poem, a letter, a cartoon—conjures a connection to the past and causes us to remember and reflect. The questions that surface in those moments can lead us to consider the object’s materiality and its power to define our thinking about ourselves and the world. These questions are the foundation for inquiry—an exploration of our culture, our learning, our relationships, and our experience, as represented by mementos from our lives.
This issue of English Journal explores teaching and learning artifacts and the memories they arouse that are “powerful pulls on identity,” as Pahl and Rowsell describe them. Which artifacts of your journey as an English teacher are most significant? How are your ELA students defining themselves as learners via artifacts and mementos? What do artifacts say about our identity as a culture, and how can the English classroom be a site for cultural critique? How have you encouraged students to examine personal objects that stir their memories and speak to their experiences? How does artifactual inquiry help us learn, understand, and teach?
Biography as Curriculum
Submission Deadline: May 15, 2018
Publication Date: January 2019
“Students come to us with their own unique cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Within these backgrounds, we can find the key that unlocks their potential for academic success.”
—Socorro Herrera, Biography-Driven Culturally Responsive Teaching (2016)
In her well-known collection of essays about transforming classrooms, Teaching to Transgress, writer bell hooks reflects on her own educational experience of surviving the desegregation era of the 1960s. She explains that since that historical moment, schools have generally struggled to teach students “how to live in the world”; hooks insists that engaged teaching necessarily values student expression, which is an extension of the lives they live outside the classroom. Researcher Socorro Herrera, describing her work with culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students, echoes hooks as she advises teachers to intentionally integrate students’ biographies as they plan lessons. Framing reading and writing assignments with learning strategies that encourage students to share aspects of their family life and their backgrounds can personalize curriculum and increase interest. The value we place on students’ individual identities influences their commitment to the culture of school and their learning in our classrooms.
For this issue of English Journal, the editors invite stories about instructional efforts to be intentional in creating assignments that allow students to integrate their in-school and out-of-school lives. How have you centered autobiography or biography in lessons and units? Which mentor texts have worked well to guide students in considering how their lives are connected to the goals of your language arts classroom? How have you employed personal journaling as a substantive element of your curriculum? When have you struggled to help students share aspects of their lives that may not be valued by the school culture? What has happened when you have invited students to explore their own experiences as a lived curriculum through the assignments you offer them?
Exploring Color Hierarchies
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2018
Publication Date: March 2019
“Of constant fascination for me are the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative—especially if the fictional main character is White (which is almost always the case).”
—Toni Morrison, The Origin of Others (2017)
Morrison’s critique of the depiction of whiteness in fiction invites us, as English teachers, to consider the implications of our classroom reading selections and how our thinking about race, color, and identity inform those choices. Literature can present characters that reflect the everyday lives of our students, but it can also minimize or ignore their experiences. The color of a character’s skin, for example, connotes a complex message to readers, since we interpret a character’s color as an essential aspect of identity. The choices we make about texts for our students matter, especially as we consider the negative messages about race and identity conveyed to them by popular culture. The multicultural high school English classroom may be one of the only spaces where students discuss the hierarchies of skin color with their peers and a supportive adult professional, which makes our role in aiding these conversations significant. How can our classes be both provocative and safe, allowing students to explore the meanings of color in the stories they read and reflect on what those meanings tell us about ourselves and the world we live in?
This issue of English Journal explores the literature we teach that addresses issues of race, ethnicity, and skin color hierarchies and the importance of the role of English teachers in engaging students in substantive discussions about identity and selfhood. The editors are especially interested in teachers’ stories of examining cultural dominance with their students. How have students responded to your efforts to share texts that critique our racialized society? Which novels, short stories, poems, and plays have inspired your classes to analyze the hierarchies of skin color? What criteria do you use to select readings for your classes and how does your own racial identity influence those criteria? How have you used a balance of both classics and contemporary classics to address race and racial identity? In the selection of literature, how do ELA curricula value or disregard perspectives on race? What lessons have you learned about using literature that “employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative” that you would want to share with others?
Speaking My Mind: We invite you to speak out on an issue that concerns you about English language arts teaching and learning. If your essay is published, it will appear with your photo in a future issue of EJ. We welcome essays of 1,000 to 1,500 words, as well as inquiries regarding possible subjects.
Teacher photographs of classroom scenes and individual students are welcome. Photographs may be uploaded to Editorial Manager at the address above in any standard image format at 300 dpi. Photos should be accompanied by complete identification: teacher/photographer’s name, location of scene, and date photograph was taken. If faces are clearly visible, names of those photographed should be included, along with their statement of permission for the photograph to be reproduced in EJ.
Cartoons should depict scenes or ideas potentially amusing to English language arts teachers. They can be submitted to Editorial Manager at the address above; we can accept any standard graphics format at 300 dpi.
For information on writing for the EJ columns, see the Columns and Column Editors info below.
For EJ Submission Guidelines, see Write for Us.
For more information, contact Englishjournal@ncte.org.